304th ESB Soldiers bring the spirit of Christmas to local orhpans and hospital patients

304th ESB Soldiers bring the spirit of Christmas to local orhpans and hospital patients

by Soo Yeon Hwang and Sung Eun Kim, USAG Humphreys Public Affairs
Stripes Korea

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea -- Soldiers from the 304th Expeditionary Signal Battalion sang Christmas carols and brought some holiday cheer to children at the House of Jacob Orphanage and patients at Good Morning Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital in Pyeongtaek on Dec. 16.

Led by Chaplain (Capt.) Kim Jue-un, the eight Soldiers were part of the battalion's ongoing community outreach efforts. They volunteered for the event to create stronger bonds with the local community and to lift the holiday spirit of patients at the hospital and the children at the orphanage.

According to Kim, the event gives Soldiers the opportunity to explore Korea and do something good for the community.

"Most of them are here for one year, they want to do something meaningful; I don't know what better opportunity we can offer than this," Kim said. "It was perfect time to reach out the community. Not only that but they did something very meaningful by reaching out to the orphanage and hospitals."

All of the Soldiers volunteered for the community outreach event.

"They did great things…all Soldiers participated as a volunteer and loved doing this. I planned and coordinated everything about the event," Kim said. "I have done it previously, but it is the first time for our unit and I am hearing that this is probably the first time for the whole Camp Humphreys. I have not heard of anyone else doing this."

The first stop for Kim and the Soldiers was the House of Jacob Orphanage where they sang for three and four-year-old children.

Kim and the Soldiers played instruments and sang four carols--"Silent Night," "Joy to the World," "White Christmas" and "Jingle Bells." All of them smiled while they sang to the children.

At first the children were slightly shy with the Soldiers but warmed up to them little by little even though they did not understand English. The children clapped their hands with delight and danced along to the Soldiers' singing. After the carols, the Soldiers and children had some time to get to know each other.

After singing at the House of Jacob, the Soldier volunteers moved to the Good Morning Hospital in downtown Pyeongtaek where they performed primarily for patients in the pediatric wards.
The patients gave the Soldiers puzzled looks at first, but soon they gathered around them to enjoy the music and the holiday spirit it brought.

The last stop for volunteers was St. Mary's Hospital, also in Pyeongtaek, where they sang on different floors and in the main lobby. People applauded loudly when the Soldiers sang "Silent Night" in Korean.

One of the Soldiers who participated, Spc. James Pirtle, 304th ESB, said they chose well-known Christmas carols that Koreans would know to lift the children's and patients' holiday spirit more easily.

Pirtle said he enjoyed meeting local people and making them happy.

"I really like doing outreach like this because, besides the fact that it allows us to get off-post, we can actually meet and mingle with people," Pirtle said. "It's just being able to see the look on people's faces, their eyes light up when they get happier. No matter why they're here in the hospital, I just want to make them happier. It was my first time but I will very definitely do it many times."

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